LEADER'S TOWN HALL

GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED IN OUR LEADERS' TOWN HALL!

The Leaders’ Town Hall is a ‘Question Time’ style theatre that will provide visitors with a unique platform to debate and discuss the biggest topics in the sector. If you have any pressing questions then this is a fantastic chance to have your voice heard!

Chaired by Andy McHugh, Teacher and Editor of HWRK Magazine, this interactive feature will gather leading names and figures within the education sector to take part in 45-minute debates and panel discussions. The audience will then have the opportunity to ask questions and share their points of view.

If you would like to have your question answered on the day then please complete our short form below. You can also scroll down to take a look at the full agenda for the Leaders’ Town Hall and learn more about each speaker and their point of view on a particular topic.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION!

Simply complete our short form below to submit your question to a particular panel. If you would like this question to be directed at a particular speaker, please specify alongside the question.

THE AGENDA

10:30 am
The State of School Governance
  • Has the role of Governors and Trustees changed due to the challenging past two years? 
  • Is there a need for a professionalisation of the role, with adequate training 
  • Should the Department play a role in this? 
  • Are School governors prepared for schools to transition to academies?  
  • Are School governors held accountable enough for their schools? 
Emma Perkin
Emma Perkin
Co-Founder
Trust Governance Professionals
Confirmed
Hannah Stolton
Hannah Stolton
CEO
Governors for Schools
Confirmed
John Fowler
John Fowler
Policy Manager
LGIU
Confirmed
Nicola West Jones
Nicola West Jones
Head of Market Research
The Key
Confirmed
Sharon Warmington
Sharon Warmington
Founder
National Black Governors Network and National Association of School and College Clerks
Confirmed
11:30 am
Does Our Exams Culture Do More Harm Than Good?
  • Between reacting to current disruptions and re-thinking how to assess learners 
  • Are the changes made to exams as a result of Covid-19 a permanent solution? 
  • Do traditional exam practices promote harmful learning habits? 
  • Are exams a help or hinderance to social mobility? 
Alistair McConville
Alistair McConville
Deputy Head, King Alfred's School
Co Founder, Rethinking Assessment
Confirmed
Angela Hopkins
Angela Hopkins
Head of Assessment Services
National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)
Confirmed
Dr Robin Bevan
Dr Robin Bevan
Headteacher
Southend High School for Boys
Confirmed
Dr William Smith
Dr William Smith
Academic Lead
Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF
Confirmed
12:15 pm
Theatre Break
1:15 pm
Is Ofsted Inadequate to Handle Safeguarding?
  • Is there a need for specialist safeguarding inspectors to assess schools? 
  • Are Ofsted capable of dealing with the safeguarding issues facing specific groups e.g. faith groups, racial minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals? 
  • Have satisfactory efforts been made to protect school children online? 
Debbie Clinton
Debbie Clinton
former CEO, ATT
Education Leadership Expert
Confirmed
Philip Beaumont
Philip Beaumont
National Director of Academies
Oasis Community Learning
Confirmed
Shaukat Warraich
Shaukat Warraich
Founder and CEO
Faith Associates
Confirmed
2:15 pm
The Role of Schools in Promoting Social Mobility
  • Do schools create an environment which promotes social mobility?
  • Do schools create a meaningful pathway to employment, and how can they work with employers? 
  • Do all post-16 education options allow for social mobility?  
Caroline Sharp
Caroline Sharp
Research Director
NFER
Confirmed
Gerry Robinson
Gerry Robinson
Executive Head
Haringey Learning Partnership
Confirmed
Kate Anstey
Kate Anstey
Programme Manager, Cost of The School Day
Child Poverty Action Group
Confirmed

THE VIEWS OF OUR SPEAKERS

"Governance has changed and evolved considerably due to the pandemic with boards adapting to new ways of working both together and with trust and school leadership. As we look forward, ensuring that the positive innovations and changes that have taken place in governance are embed will be an important focus for boards. Strong knowledgeable governance professionals are a key part in ensuring effective governance for Trust boards and their committees. As a sector we need to consider how we can support and develop our current and the next generation of governance professionals."
Emma Perkin
Emma PerkinCo-FounderTrust Governance Officials
"School governance has adapted in light of the challenges of the past two years, however the volunteers we see come forward are still motivated to do so to support their communities, by helping schools provide the best outcomes for pupils in their care. Covid has motivated people to apply, with a concern for staff and pupil wellbeing a key reason to get involved. Many also tell us they are keen to ensure that schools are preparing students for the changing world of work and to ensure that all have access to the opportunities available. There is always a need for more governors and vacancies are increasing. Boards are looking for specific skills, diversity of background and commitment, so the continued lack of understanding about the role means that sourcing new governors is not easy."
Hannah Stolton
Hannah StoltonCEOGovernors for Schools
"During the pandemic much more pressure was put on Chairs, who were working very closely with Heads, often acting in a much more supportive than challenging role than usual. When pupils returned, the role of the governing body became much more focused around things like health and safety, safeguarding, and asking questions about very practical, operational elements of running the school. I do wonder whether we've become a bit less tolerant of some of the more red-tape elements of governance - I think governors are finding they need to focus much more on the key issues that schools are dealing with, say around progress and attainment and mental health, and are possibly less happy to be sitting around talking about less significant changes to policies now."
Nicola West Jones
Nicola West JonesHead of Market ResearchThe Key
"The role and responsibilities of governance hasn’t just changed due to the pandemic, it has been forced to change also due to the demands of the student body and stakeholders more widely, to be more representative of society today - it has not gone far enough! There is training available but this training comes AFTER appointment whereas NBGN works with Black communities to provide training BEFORE becoming governors in order to deal with many of the barriers to entry that exist (perceived and actual). We’re unclear what ‘professionalisation’ of the role means and if this is linked to remuneration then that is a separate debate because this would only further restrict entry to these roles and cause more conflict."
Sharon Warmington
Sharon WarmingtonFounderNational Black Governors Network
"The last two years have been extremely challenging for clerks who were expected to hit the ground running when lockdown happened in March 2020 and find a way to get governors who traditionally didn’t even respond to emails or texts, up and running on virtual platforms! Clerks are professionals who do a professional job but if there is going to be a discussion about ‘professionalisation’ of governors/ trustees which includes remuneration, we must first address the issue of seriously low pay for clerks - in many cases this is less than national minimum wage and they then have to wait 4-5 months to be paid! There are a lot of clerks who are concerned about transitioning to academies, not least due to the increased workload during the transition, and the fact that they will become small fish in a large pond if they find themselves in MATs with 40, 50, 60 or more schools."
Sharon Warmington
Sharon WarmingtonFounderNational Association of School and College Clerks
“At individual subject level, for example in Maths or History, assessment through a set of terminal written examinations can seem to make some sense. However, our assessment system, especially at GCSE, is now dominated in a damaging way by the extensive and exclusive reliance on this approach. This exam culture excludes approaches that promote and value ‘soft skills’ including collaboration, creativity and communication and limits inter-disciplinary learning. A significant minority of lower attaining pupils have no access at all to accreditation. A high proportion of the school population are drilled for examinations in which they achieve less than 50% in every exam. Meanwhile the highest attainers are required to complete 50 hours of examinations in a three-week period, an approach that measures short-term retention and pressurised recall rather than deep learning. Other modes of assessment are more equitable and can be as reliable: it’s time for change.”
Dr Robin Bevan
Dr Robin BevanHeadteacherSouthend High School for Boys
"This is not an ‘Ofsted bashing’ session. The key issue is the sheer scope and range of the activities needed to inspect SG effectively. HMI and OI s do this, alongside the inspection of education standards. This is all done within a very tight inspection tariff (number of inspection days) and a challenging budget for Ofsted. The ever-expanding requirements of DfE KCSIE (current version is 163 pages – packed with numerous ‘musts’) make the job of delivering effective SG in schools, and the job of inspecting the quality of that provision, extremely challenging. All of this is exacerbated by the blunt fact that very little SG activity in schools is actually funded (no pupil led ring fenced grants etc). My genuine concern is that we are in danger of inspecting (regulating) neither education nor SG effectively…"
Debbie Clinton
Debbie ClintonFormer CEO, ATTEducation Leadership Expert
"Ofsted is too narrow to understand the many detailed and complex safeguarding risks against every group because they are looking at education with a fair understanding of safeguarding – but they are not experts (though some are). Ofsted’s approach to HSB explains it all – they are now looking at ‘safeguarding’ through the HSB lens because of the high focus in their training (which then shifts what schools focus on/are doing away from another topic)."
Sarah Bloomer
Sarah BloomerDirector of SafeguardingAcademy Transformation Trust
"High stakes testing and exam cultures shape (often narrowing) our perceptions of quality education and qualify who and what is valuable in our education system. England is one of the most test-obsessed countries in the world, with the GCSE and A level exams having a direct impact on student’s future opportunities while school level league tables promote an education market putting pressure on schools. While the COVID pandemic put a hold on these exams, the recent announcement tying student loans to GCSE scores exasperates the equity concerns already prevalent in the system and is likely to further the divide between economic classes in accessing higher education. In general, I support a more portfolio approach to assessment where exams are only one demonstration of a student’s knowledge and teachers are rightfully recognized as being best positioned to assess the students in their classroom."
Dr William Smith
Dr William SmithAcademic Lead DataChildren Collaborative with UNICEF
"Gaps between children related to economic deprivation are relatively large before they start school and, though they differ between schools, the between-school differences are not large. There has been progress in reducing the disadvantage attainment gap since the introduction of the pupil premium in 2011, but the evidence is that national progress in narrowing the gap has stalled recently and may even be going into reverse, due to the influence of the pandemic. Social mobility is a complex issue which schools cannot solve alone, but they can make a difference to children from deprived backgrounds and many do."
Caroline Sharp
Caroline SharpResearch DirectorNFER
"Our UK Cost of the School Day research shows that schools can, and do, play an important role in tackling child poverty and many have policies and practices in place that help to ensure the school day is inclusive and can be fully accessed by all pupils, regardless of income. However, we’ve heard from pupils and families across the UK that there are a number of cost related barriers that prevent children being able to take part in everything school has to offer e.g. curriculum and subject costs, uniform costs, trips and fun events, and this impacts their learning and experience of school. For all children to thrive at school, the school day must be truly free to access, otherwise children will continue to miss out on their education."
Kate Anstey
Kate AnsteyProgramme Manager, Cost of The School DayChild Poverty Action Group